NEW YORK KNIFE LAWS -Part 2

June 23, 2010 by Peter Howard Tilem

As experienced criminal defense lawyers we have been seeing an increase in the number of people contacting us after being arrested with a knife. In our continuing effort to educate the public about criminal law, this series will summarize New York State and New York City Knife laws. In Part 1 we discussed what are referred to as "per se" weapons. Weapons or in this case knives that mere possession of constitutes a crime. In part 2 we will discuss knives that are only illegal if you have intent to use that knife illegally against another person but as you will see there is a twist to that requirement. In Part 3 we will discuss knife laws that are particular to New York City only and do not apply other places in New York State.

New York State Penal Law §265.01 (2) makes it illegal to possess any dirk, razor, dangerous knife, dagger or stiletto only if there is intent to use it unlawfully against someone else. The problem develops in Penal Law §265.15 where the law actually creates a presumption that a person who possesses a dagger, stiletto, dirk or dangerous knife has the intent to use it unlawfully against someone else if it is made, adapted or designed primarily for use as a weapon. And its hard to know exactly what that means. What does it mean that a knife is made primarily for use as a weapon?

The answer is unclear. In Queens a Criminal Court judge ruled that possession of a dagger without more was sufficient to make out a charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. People v. Nwogu. In Manhattan, another Criminal Court Judge ruled that possession of a knife combined with a statement that the knife was for self defense was enough to make out a charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. The judge reasoned that by stating that it was for self defense it shows that the defendant considered the knife a weapon and therefore the presumption applied but that judge ruled that if the defendant had remained silent that the evidence would be insufficient. People v. Richards.

So as you can see, one who carries a knife of any kind in New York faces a substantial risk of arrest and prosecution. If you have any questions about knife charges in New York or any other criminal charges, please contact Tilem & Campbell for a fast free and friendly consultation.

Comments

I have a machete, which of course I never carry, I have it at home. I imagined that if I were asked about it I would say it's an item for self defense, as I expected this would be more than amply covered under the 2nd amendment. After reading your post I'm not so sure. As far as the rule that claiming an item is for defense implies that the subject considers it a weapon and thus implies intent to use it illegally, does that apply only to items carried or also to items held at home?

I was wondering if there were any blade length specifications on Long Island that you know of, or if it matters if it is a fixed blade or folding style knife, could that alter the law?

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